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362) Curie Project

Ludwik Kowalski

Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA
April 25, 2009


THIS IS A NEW VERSION OF PART 2 OF UNIT #359
click to see 359 unit

Introduction
Unit 361 was devoted to triple tracks discovered by SPAWAR team. At least one SPAWAR type experiment with performed with a CR-39 chip protected from the electrolyte with a thin mylar film. Results reported last summer in Catania are very puzzling. I am surprised that no one on the CNMS list answered my question, even those who were reported puzzling results (Tazella, Lipson, Boss, etc.). Why do they prefer to remain silent? Perhaps they do not read my messages.

Project Curie
But I received a private message from Richard Oriani, who does cover CR-39 chip with mylar. He suggested that I try to replicate his recent PACA results, as described in unit 333 at my website (see the link below). This prompted me to post the following message on the Internet list for CMNS researchers:

Two CR-39 protocols have been used to discover, and to confirm,  reality of nuclear-like tracks produced during electrolysis: Oriani’s ordinary-water protocol and SPAWAR heavy-water protocol. I was lucky to familiarize myself with these protocols (helped by Richard and by Pam) and to observe tracks with my own eyes. Actually, there are two  Oriani protocols; let me call them A and B. Protocol A, described at

http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/cf/333physrevc.html

can be used in a totally independent experiment.” Results reported in Oriani’s rejected manuscript (see the URL above) are more recent and they are said to be 100% reproducible. I know that many people on this list are able to independently replicate Oriani’s protocol A. With this in mind, I would like to suggest a cooperation, to be called “Curie Project.” The purpose of The Galileo Project, organized by Steve Krivit, was to independently confirm SPAWAR results; the purpose of Curie Project would be to do the same for recent Oriani’s results (see the URL above). I am certain that Richard will be happy to assist those who need technical help. I have enough CR-39 for at least ten experiments. I can also perform microscopic examination of already-etched CR-39 chips, for someone who has no access to a microscope. The entire experiment, including etching, must be performed in different labs (a possible alpha-radioactive contamination is no longer a problem after etching).

We would give ourselves a deadline, for example, to finish experiments before the end of May or June. Then one of us would draft a cooperative paper to be submitted to a journal. All results, both positive and negative would be reported. Later we would discuss which paper to choose. More detailed reports, focusing on individual results, are likely to be suitable for ICCF15. Please reply by sharing what you think about this idea, even if you are not interest in participation in the Curie Project.

I think our experiments should be as identical as possible. Let us use a constant-voltage source of 12 volts (a car battery or an equivalent power supply). We all should be using Ni foils as cathodes (Pd is more expensive) and light distilled water (heavy water is much more expensive). Richard, confirm that these are good suggestions. If not then suggest something else.

2) Do you know people who are not on the list  but able to participate in the Curie Project? If so then please share this message with them. In my opinion, any serious researcher, willing to conduct a CMNS experiment, should be recommended to Haiko.

Appended on 4/5/2009
No one (except Oriani, in a private message) replied to what was posted yesterday. This prompted me to post another message:

"1) In a private message, Oriani wrote (I have permission to quote): 'I applaud your effort to stimulate the replication of my results that showed reproducibility. I shall be glad to provide advice whenever needed to whomever is interested in carrying out the project. I   emphasize that the demonstration of reproducibility of development of nuclear tracks in CR-39 detectors placed in electrolysis cells is the desired goal. Therefore at least ten separate experiments with appropriate controls will be required from an experimenter.'

2) A list of what is needed (including prices), to replicate Oriani's protocol, can be seen at:

http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/cf/188oriani.html

Figure 1, next to the list, shows the cell, as we used it before Richard's PACA protocol was introduced. PACA stands for 'Protected Against Chemical Attack.' He introduced this protocol after SPAWAR CR-39 results became known in 2007. The setup is the same except for the   following:

a) The CR-39 detector is no longer where it was (inside of the lower tube).

b) What is labeled "nickel" should be a CR-39 chip, separated from the electrolyte by a thin film (6 microns or so) of mylar.

c) A nickel cathode wire (with a foot resting on the mylar) is introduced into the cell from above, more or less like the anode.

Please correct me if I am wrong, Richard. Also provide additional details, if needed.

3) The photo of my cell, and additional details can be seen at:

http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/cf/192logbook.html

4) Another picture of my cell (for the experiment Richard wants us to replicate) can be seen in Figure 3, at:

http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/cf/336cat.html

Figure 2, by the way, shows a spectacular Richard's cluster; Figure 4 is a similar cluster from my replication experiment.

5) Do you see the question in Figure 1? The purpose of Curie Project would be to answer it. Is it true that nuclear-like tracks, not attributable to background, are reproducible on demand, when PACA protocol is used? The Galileo Project did answer this question positively for the SPAWAR protocol. Will the same be true for the PACA protocol? This is possible, provided at least three more sets of  independent experiments are performed.

6) Please share what you think about the idea of performing replication experiments at the same time.

7) Yesterday I wrote: 'Do you know people who are not on the list  but able to participate in  the Curie Project? If so then please share this message with them.' Was it a good idea?

8) With some hesitation, I suggest we use nickel from the same batch, and from the same supplier. Perhaps Richard will be willing to order a box of foils and send one foil to each of us. This would lower the cost; suppliers do not sell single foils. Other expenses could be lowered in the same way, provided participants pay for what is sent to them, including postage.

9) Not everyone is likely to have time for ten replication experiments, suggested by Richard. What about only four, providing at least four people participate in the Curie Project? A person (or a team)  deciding to participate should make a commitment within a week or two."

Appended on 4/7/2009
One person wrote that the suggested deadline in not realistic. Responding to this, I wrote: "Let me push the suggested deadline (for making Curie-Project commitments) to the end of May.  This would be four months before the ICCF15. We would report results, or preliminary results, at that conference, if we are ready. Otherwise we would continue working till a clear yes-or-no answer is found. Additional comments and suggestions would be appreciated. Is the Curie Project worth organizing? Is the task well defined?

P.S. My last message referred to Ni foils. That was a mistake. I forgot that the cathode, in Richard's PACA experiments, is no longer a foil, it is a wire. Should we use wires from the same spool or is it better if  each of us uses a nickel wires from a different manufacturer? Even very tentative commitment would be appreciated on this list. This could encourage others. Thanks in advance.


John Fisher, who worked with Oriani, and reported the results at ICCF10, posted the following comment: "Although I think we could learn a lot from the Curie Project I doubt that it would convince a hard-nosed skeptic.

***>Even if all of the participants were to report positive results, the skeptic would note that they had selected themselves. The request for volunteers was submitted to a large number of individuals. Before committing to the project, many might have attempted to achieve a positive result. Those that failed may have declined to participate. In light of this potential bias the skeptic would reject a claim of reproducibility.

***>If some participants report positive results and some report negative results, the absence of reproducibility would be demonstrated. The skeptic would likely believe that unidentified and uncontrolled factors were responsible for the positive results.

***> The protocol does not include studies of radon contamination, of other radioactive contamination, or cosmic rays, to eliminate them as causes of the etch pits.

***>It has not been shown that in all cases the etch pits are actually associated with particle tracks, and the identities of the presumed particles making such tracks have not been determined.

In light of such considerations a skeptic would probably conclude that although something odd my have been observed in some electrolysis experiments, there is no reason to believe that these observations are evidence of nuclear reactions.

If, however, we view the project as a means of educating ourselves, of discovering factors that disfavor or favor reaction and removing or enhancing them as appropriate, we then may be able to achieve a reliably reproducible protocol and a much stronger project. “


This is an interesting observation. It seems to apply to all CMNS projects, not only to CR-39 work. I was not thinking about the "hard-nose skeptics;" I was thinking about majority of honest scientists who would start performing reproducible-on-demand experiments, and start testing their theories against undeniable results.

Responding to John Fisher, I wrote "I think that we should not worry about "hard-nosed skeptics." We should try to convince common scientists, most of them are honest and objective. Suppose four teams participate in the Curie Project, performing 16 experiments. Suppose that 15 of these experiments show nuclear-like tracks, at densities at least five times higher than the background. Suppose that this is published, for example in EPJAP or in Phys. Rev. Suppose that journalists write about our results in newspapers. I am certain that this would contribute significantly to the ending of discrimination against our field."

And what if results are inconclusive, or negative? Negative results would convince us that Richard's tracks were not due to a nuclear process resulting from electrolysis. We would be disappointed but that would not prevent us from obeying the rules of the game. Would we still publish the results or would we hesitate, thinking that "this might hurt the field"? I would vote for publishing negative, or uncertain results. Uncertain results would prolong the agony; they would again indicate that something is going on but we do not know how to control it. A poisoning effect of some kind (as postulated by Peter Gluck) or an elusive NAE (Nuclear Active Environments postulated by Ed Storms)? Uncertain results would force us to continue, obeying scientic-method. Natural human emotions, such as tendency to de-emphasize (or hide) negative (presumably explainable) results should be resisted at all costs. Yes, it is difficult to be objective. Based on my experience so far, I am afraid that some experiments will produce tracks while others will show nothing above the fluctuating background.

Appended on 5/21/2009
The following reminder was posted on the CMNS list. “The deadline for a commitment is approaching (end of May). But I am still waiting for the first serious commitment to participate in The Curie Project. Why is it so?” In the same I quoted how the project was announced in the first week of April. I am very surprised by the absence of interest. A large number of CMNS list subscribers consist of electrochemists. Many of them are well equipped to implement simple Oriani protocol. Why do they prefer not to participate? That is very significant to me. Perhaps the reminder will result in at least three of four commitments.

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